Coverlet museum opens exhibition

BEDFORD – The National Museum of the American Coverlet in Bedford features handwoven bed coverings from the early to mid 1800s.

Unlike quilts, coverlets were made on looms, produced “from scratch,” one row at a time, usually of wool and cotton; and often with yarns that were handspun and hand-dyed.

Woven by both men and women, antique coverlets are colorful and graphic; and many bear inscriptions with the owner’s and/or weaver’s name, location and date.

Beginning on April 12, a total of 88 selections from the Janet and John Simmermaker collection, one of the most important private coverlet collections in the country, will be on display.

Among other things, the coverlets themselves are interesting for the variety of the themes of their patterns and/or inscriptions.

These include Patriotism, Service Organizations (Masons/Odd Fellows), Words of Wisdom, Animals, Transportation and more.

This is a rare opportunity to see a large number of wonderful antique coverlets, many of which have not previously been on public display.

A full color exhibition catalog with images of all 88 coverlets will be available.

On the April 12 opening day, the museum will host the annual gathering of the Colonial Coverlet Guild of America, a Chicago-based organization with national membership.

The event is open to the public with pre-registration required.

Indiana collector, John Simmermaker, will be in Bedford to offer a tour of the exhibition with comments from his viewpoint, and additional presentations will focus on the coverlets in the exhibition, as well as related coverlets in the museum collection.

The day will also include lunch and a “show and tell.”

Detailed program schedule and registration form are available on the museum website at For more information, call 623-1588.

The public is invited to attend the April 12 event and perhaps bring one or two coverlets for the “show and tell.” The $24 registration fee includes museum admission, the tour, programs and lunch.

The exhibition will run through the weekend of the museum’s September Coverlet College event, as well as the Bedford Fall Foliage weekends in October.

John Simmermaker will offer exhibition tours at both the opening weekend in April and Coverlet College in September.

The National Museum of the American Coverlet is located in the historic Common School building at 322 S. Juliana St., Bedford.

The museum is open year-round, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday and noon to 4 p.m. Sunday.